Sarah Stanczyk, the 32-year-old daughter of former Palmetto Bay Mayor Shelley Stanczyk, underwent liver transplant surgery at the University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison on Monday Aug. 3, and is still in the intensive care unit as of this writing.
She and her mother were airlifted there from a hospital in St. Louis on July 31 after being critically ill for the past three months. Her condition also caused partial kidney failure, for which she requires dialysis. Sarah, a Coral Reef High graduate with a BA from the University of Miami was going for her PhD at NSU, where she got her master’s in international security, when she fell ill.
No stranger to personal tragedy, Sarah is the widow of an Iraq War Army veteran who passed away unexpectedly in 2008. She fell in love again and lost her fiancé in 2009 in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. Since their deaths she had dedicated much of her time to fellow military widows who have suffered similar situations.
Stanczyk and her husband, Stanley Stanczyk, are at her bedside and the emotional strain has been great.
“Sarah is really strong and she wants to accomplish a lot in her life,” Shelley Stanczyk said by phone on Aug. 6. “She’s got a lot of plans and a lot of future ahead of her, and that’s what this [the surgery] is going to bring her.
“I appreciate everyone’s help a lot. Being a young person she doesn’t have a lot to put together to go toward this. We got a lot of help from our community which we really appreciate. Everybody in the family is taking a piece of Sarah’s life and holding it together. Katie is doing the finances and insurance, Kelley has been taking care of her accounts and house mortgage, paying her bills. Everybody’s been pitching in.”
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (RFlorida) and Sen. Joseph Keveany (DMissouri) helped secure and expedite the transfer to the hospital in Wisconsin, and other elected officials also have helped, including State Rep. Michael Bileca (RPalmetto Bay), Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner, Palmetto Bay Councilmember Karyn Cunningham, Cutler Bay Councilmember Sue Loyzelle, former Palmetto Bay Councilmember Joan Lindsay and former Pinecrest Mayor Evelyn Greer.
Sarah and her family will take classes on supporting her new liver, the necessary medications to prevent rejection and other related transplant issues during her recovery from the surgery. Following that, they will locate in the immediate area surrounding the hospital for three to six months. This provides access to necessary followup care, immediate medical intervention if necessary, and access to the many medical appointments.
The family has started a GoFundMe account to help pay the mounting expenses and her sister, Katie Gonzalez, has posted several updates on her condition there. Anyone who wants to help can go to <www.gofundme.com/e6d52n87y8>.